Product Recall

Last updated: July 4, 2022

What Does Product Recall Mean?

A product recall is a public request by a company or government agency to return a product due to a defect.

Most product recalls are voluntarily issued by the manufacturer of a company. If, however, a product defect causes a significant risk to the product’s user, a government agency may issue a mandatory recall.

Safeopedia Explains Product Recall

A product recall is typically advertised by the government agency responsible for regulating the product, such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Occupational safety in the workplace requires that strict attention be paid to product recalls related to personal protective equipment (PPE) and other materials in order to ensure that no safety controls are compromised.

Voluntary product recalls are often issued by manufacturers in order to avoid future legal liability and potential damage to corporate image. In order to ensure that workplaces are made aware of safety-related recalls, organizations such as OSHA issue alerts through information bulletins. Mandatory marking requirements on personal protective technology (PPT) are used to help workplaces identify recalled equipment and aid in the traceability of items moving through the recall process.

Safety products are often recalled because it is discovered that under specific conditions they do not meet a particular federal regulatory code (CFR) or occupational safety agency (e.g. Mine Safety and Health Administration) standard. Recall processes for an item can vary depending on the task the item is used for. For instance, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) operates a recall program through the National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory (NPPTL). This program handles recalls solely related to personal protective respirators.

The NIOSH NPPTL program for respirator PPT is the most comprehensive and universal oversight regime available for PPT. Outside of respirators, there is no single system in the United States for overseeing the conformity and recall process of occupational PPT. The lack of a single oversight program means that recalls are made through a variety of government agencies like the Electrical Safety Authority, as well as through non-governmental standards associations such as the Canadian Standards Association International. Responsibility for conformity and compliance oversight is fragmented to various agencies depending on criteria such as the job sector the product is used in and the type of protection that it offers.


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